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Ask Slashdot: Why Isn't There More Public Outrage About NSA Revelations? 610

Posted by Soulskill
from the american-attention-span-exceeded dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "This morning we discussed news that the National Security Agency (NSA) has siphoned up millions of online address books and contact lists. The Post drew its information from top-secret documents provided by government whistleblower Edward Snowden, who spent the summer feeding information about the NSA to a variety of news outlets. Snowden's documents (as outlined in The Guardian, Spiegel Online and other venues) have detailed a massive NSA program that's siphoning all sorts of personal information from a variety of sources — and yet the public seems to have greeted each new revelation with weakening outrage. Whereas the initial news reports about NSA splying in June kicked off a firestorm of controversy and discussion (aggravated by the drama of Snowden seeking asylum in pretty much any country that would have him), the unveiling of the NSA's Great Contact-List Caper has ranked below the news stories such as the government shutdown, negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, and invites for Apple's upcoming iPad event on aggregators such as Google News; it also didn't make much of a blip on Twitter and other online forums. There's the very real possibility that Americans, despite the assurances of government officials, are being monitored in a way that potentially violates their privacy. Surely that's an issue that concerns a great many individuals; and yet, as time goes by, it seems as if people are choosing to focus on other things. Are we suffering from 'surveillance fatigue?'"
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Ask Slashdot: Why Isn't There More Public Outrage About NSA Revelations?

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  • Deep down.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daemonik (171801) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:01PM (#45138175) Homepage
    ..we've all suspected it was true a long time ago. Honestly I think the bigger surprise was that the surveillance wasn't worse. There have been people who've sworn for years that every time you lick a stamp the Post Office sequences your DNA....
    • Re:Deep down.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sir_Sri (199544) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:13PM (#45138293)

      That's kind of it. We've known about secret closets in AT&T offices for ages, and we have known about NSA- microsoft cooperation for a long time. We've know since what, the 1990 that they were one of the biggest buyers of supercomputing tech etc.

      The only thing snowden has really meaningfully (meaningful to the public anyway) revealed is who exactly is in on it, and you could reasonably figure that out with the minimum of brain power before.

      Besides that, what does anyone think all this money going to agencies is for if not for spying? Particularly the NSA as a sigint organization, electronic eavesdropping is their whole reason d'etre. You may not like what they're doing, but for the amount of money they're getting I'd expect them to be trying to build the tools to wiretap everything. You may think they shouldn't be doing that - and fair enough, they probably shouldn't, but at least 10 billion dollars a year is a lot of money for an organization that specializes in spying on electronic communications and doesn't run its own submarines or human intelligence.

      • Re:Deep down.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by afidel (530433) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:26PM (#45138431)

        The real revelation was how much of it was going on domestically, before 9/11 the NSA was basically barred from operating domestically, with the interpretation of a few provisions in the Patriot Act they went from almost no domestic footprint to dragneting most domestic communications.

        • by Sir_Sri (199544)

          Which again, isn't really a shock - they were always allowed to look for spies, but after Al Qaeda showed everyone how infiltration can really be done, you'd pretty much expect them to be looking at everyone to figure out if they are an 'agent a foreign power'.

          • Re:Deep down.. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by icebike (68054) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @09:20PM (#45138899)

            but after Al Qaeda showed everyone how infiltration can really be done,

            Except that isn't true.

            Every one of the 9/11 terrorists fit a profile that should have sounded alarm bells at the border.
            Finding guys like that is easy if you are looking and it doesn't require reading every grandmothers email, or recording
            every phone call or feeling every crotch.

            Russian operatives were far more successful, some escaping detection for multiple decades.

            • Re:Deep down.. (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Sir_Sri (199544) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @10:10PM (#45139271)

              Every one of the 9/11 terrorists fit a profile that should have sounded alarm bells at the border.

              I hate to break it to you, but half the male muslims in the world meet the same profile. And the vast majority of them don't try and crash airplanes into buildings.

              But that's beside the point - I didn't any of it was a good idea. Only that it's not surprising.

              Russian operatives were far more successful, some escaping detection for multiple decades.

              Yes, but spies are professionals.

              And enough Al Qaeda operatives have escaped detection to cause quite a lot of trouble (including incidentally in Russia, which unlike the US, has internal border controls as well).

              • Re:Deep down.. (Score:5, Interesting)

                by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @02:22AM (#45140337)

                "I hate to break it to you, but half the male muslims in the world meet the same profile. And the vast majority of them don't try and crash airplanes into buildings."

                No, they don't. Half the male muslims in the world did not have known suspicious connections, engage in known suspicious activities, etc. These guys WERE flagged by other agencies, but the word apparently didn't get around.

                They were hardly your "average" guys.

                • Re:Deep down.. (Score:5, Insightful)

                  by TapeCutter (624760) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @05:45AM (#45141003) Journal
                  People have short memories. The "smoking gun" was that infamous memo that wasn't acted upon, that's where "national security" was compromised, it was in no way a keystone cops screw up, it was a "noob" mistake at the highest level. Yes, the buck stopped on the presidents desk but in this case it shouldn't have. It should have been promptly delegated to the appropriate TLA for further action.

                  Clinton and his battle hardened adviser Clarke were fools to be obsessed by a rich, disgruntled, ex-CIA partisan called Bin-Laden [youtube.com], remember? That other rich, disgruntled, ex-CIA partisan, Saddam, the one who tried to kill Bush's daddy, he was the real threat, remember? Come to think of it, I take that back, it wasn't a "noob mistake", it was an extreme over-abundance of hubris on behalf of a new administration. When they fell asleep at the wheel the shit hit the fan. Their response to the splattering sound was by contrast prompt, well executed, and largely effective. After consulting a story about a goat for seven whole minutes, they turned around and shot the messengers they had foolishly ignored.
            • by FatdogHaiku (978357) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @10:59PM (#45139557)

              Russian operatives were far more successful, some escaping detection for multiple decades.

              Interesting use of the past tense there, comrade...

            • Re:Deep down.. (Score:5, Insightful)

              by TWX (665546) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @12:55AM (#45140045)

              Every one of the 9/11 terrorists fit a profile that should have sounded alarm bells at the border. Finding guys like that is easy if you are looking and it doesn't require reading every grandmothers email, or recording every phone call or feeling every crotch.

              It was more than should have sounded alarms, they did get noticed, they did sound alarms. The flight school learning-to-fly but not learning-to-land was seen and not properly acted upon. Their casing the airports and dress rehearsals were observed and some even commented on them.

              Subsequent terror attacks against the US were not thwarted by high technology, even with all of the high technology and invasiveness that has followed. Those that were detected in advance were done so because someone in the public reported it, those that were tried and failed did so because of problems of the terrorists' makings, and those that succeeded (like Boston) happened in part because high technology failed to do its job and find those who would do us ill.

              High tech solutions have failed. Failed. It's a shame that the weary nature of our current culture isn't causing something more to be done about it. Halting the government because of health care that affects a fairly small portion of the populace? That's stupid compared to what we're not caring about.

              • by icebike (68054)

                Everything you've said is spot on.

                Boston Marathon proved the meta data collection was a total failure, the tapping of international phone calls, international emails, text messages all failed. And when the Russians hand over information on the older brother, they send an FBI agent to talk to him, and that's All they did.

                Yet you throw that fact out there and it will be used to justify more surveillance.

        • Re:Deep down.. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by fustakrakich (1673220) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:56PM (#45138701) Journal

          ...before 9/11 the NSA was basically barred from operating domestically...

          That's assuming they ever abide by any rules... I would lay odds that was never the case. Hell, the Constitution wasn't seven years old when the Aliens and Sedition Act was imposed. What have we learned? That we repeat mistakes totally unawares. Then we "unlearn" it during the next hysterical "crisis".

          • Re:Deep down.. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by postbigbang (761081) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @09:12PM (#45138823)

            People tend to be highly motivated towards new freedoms, until they gain a lot of wealth, and then that wealth must be protected. The "Give me your tired, your poor, your hungry yearning to be free" becomes islands of getting ahead, realizing the "American Dream", and wealth creation.

            Then comes the defense of wealth, as in: don't tax it and let those loafers have it. Watch out for those (commies, seditionists, traitors, and the nebulous definition of terrorists).

            We don't really repeat mistakes, as there's always been a large contingent that will protect wealth at all possible costs-- and defend their methods of creating it. I don't deny anyone a reasonable profit, but what's reasonable depends on which side of have's/have-nots you might rest on.

            • Re:Deep down.. (Score:5, Interesting)

              by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @09:31PM (#45139003)

              We don't really repeat mistakes, as there's always been a large contingent that will protect wealth at all possible costs-- and defend their methods of creating it. I don't deny anyone a reasonable profit, but what's reasonable depends on which side of have's/have-nots you might rest on.

              Small problem; wealth inequity in this country has never been this bad, not by a long shot. We've had a middle class since the post-industrial labor reforms of the 1930s. Prior to that, it was a clusterfuck as we moved from an agricultural to industrial society, which is to be expected. However, we don't have one anymore; we have the poor, and the super rich. The line separating those two is getting thinner every year.

              So no, it is no longer a question of which "side" you're on. If you think this is still about politics, you haven't been keeping up. And to bring this home; This is the reason why nobody gives a fuck about the NSA.

              They're too damn busy trying to stay alive to care about something as esoteric as civil liberties. When you're starving, you don't care about freedom -- you care about bread. And anyone who has some is your friend. Make the people starve, and they'll tolerate any amount of tyranny... so long as the tyrant keeps giving out bread crumbs.

              • Seriously? People really think like this?

                However, we don't have one anymore; we have the poor, and the super rich. The line separating those two is getting thinner every year.

                What on earth does that even mean? Shouldn't you be saying that the gap gets wider, if you think there really isn't a middle class? What's the border between super-rich and middle-class? And between middle-class and poor? Put up some ballpark numbers.

                I will grant you that the division in society is becoming more entrenched, but the funny thing is that it's the social conservatives - one of the least popular groups in American politics - who actually have the correct

                • However, we don't have one anymore; we have the poor, and the super rich. The line separating those two is getting thinner every year.

                  What on earth does that even mean?

                  This [youtube.com].

                  Shouldn't you be saying that the gap gets wider, if you think there really isn't a middle class?

                  Shouldn't you be focusing on the points being made instead of tripping over the metaphor used?

                  one of the least popular groups in American politics - who actually have the correct solution for that.

                  Well there's a bait and switch if I've ever seen it. Let's back up the fail train. The original topic was Why isn't there more public outrage? It's not a popularity contest.

                  As I once saw it put, it would be a lot better if American elites preached what they practiced

                  If they started preaching it, then people would realize that what the power elite are proposing and supporting, is structurally more similar to fascism than any other ideology. Which is why they don't. And it would be a lot better if they

              • Re:Deep down.. (Score:5, Interesting)

                by cavreader (1903280) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @12:31AM (#45139969)

                "wealth inequity in this country has never been this bad, not by a long shot"

                This is not really accurate. Study the late 19th century and early 20th century where every major industry was a monopoly ruled by just a few people siphoning off the profits for themselves. At the time there was no such thing as workers rights or a mandatory minimum wage and certainly nothing about prohibiting monopolies. Banks operated without any form of oversight from the government. Protectionism and tariffs on imports combined with the Foreign Policy of the day helped usher in the Great Depression. All the outrage today about the governments surveillance programs and accusations of rights violations are nothing when compared against past actions. Two of the best Presidents in US history blatantly and knowingly ignored the constitution when they perceived the country was in danger and they could not trust the Legislators to make the right decisions. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus and imprisoned journalists publishing any thing negative about how the Union and Lincoln was handling the civil war. He actually tried to argue that they were disclosing secret information that could potentially be used by the Confederates. Sound familiar? FDR blatantly ignored Congress as well as the majority of US citizens when he came up with ways to bypass the Neutrality Act with the lend lease program and the gradual expansion of the area the US claimed as territorial waters to try and protect shipping to Europe during WW2. Congress passed a law forbidding the government from using wire taps when FDR wanted to monitor suspected Nazi agents operating in the US. The day Congress voted to prohibit this FDR wrote a Presidential order and delivered to the Justice Department telling them to ignore the law passed in Congress and proceed with the taps. The only reason these two presidents were not impeached was because they were both successful in the end.

        • by Trogre (513942)

          Before 9/11? What the NSA was doing has been known, at least in academic circles, since the 1990's.

          It was taught in my University classes circa 1995 that all Internet traffic in and out of the US is intercepted and analysed by the NSA.

          It wasn't deplored or lamented - merely pointed out as fact, primarily to illustrate the folly of expecting privacy online. I believe the "treat every message as secure as a postcard" mantra was also taught at that time.

      • Re:Deep down.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NoKaOi (1415755) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:53PM (#45138675)

        That's kind of it. We've known about secret closets in AT&T offices for ages, and we have known about NSA- microsoft cooperation for a long time. We've know since what, the 1990 that they were one of the biggest buyers of supercomputing tech etc.

        So they are violating the law and the constitution, and just because we've thought it's been going on for a long time, now that we have proof we should just let it go? Here's a car analogy: You know your teenage neighbor has been joyriding in your car in the middle of the night for quite some time. Finally, another neighbor catches him on camera and gives you the proof. Do you:
        a) Figure it doesn't matter, because you know he's been doing it for quite some time anyway.
        b) Do what you need to in order to put a stop to it. If you take it to his parents, and they either outright lie about it (Clapper) or say tough cookies, it doesn't matter (Obama), then do you revert to (a) or do you escalate it?

      • by luckymutt (996573)

        and we have known about NSA- microsoft cooperation for a long time.

        I used to think I was paranoid to think that among Windows updates they were updating a database to flag me if certain IP addresses were visited.
        Now it seems very reasonable and even likely.

    • Just read a newspaper sometime... we are not suffering from "surveillance fatigue." The correct term would be "Outrage Fatigue."
    • Re:Deep down.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by whoever57 (658626) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:20PM (#45138361) Journal
      There doesn't seem to be great outrage at the possiblity of default, which could have catastrophic effects on the US economy if it resulted in the US Dollar's reserve currency status being downgraded -- if a significant proportion of those dollars currently held by other countries were sold, it would be dire. Any impact on the economy from the ACA would pale into insignificance in comparison to compromise of reserve currency status.

      So where is the outrage at the small number of Republicans who are threatening this?
      • Re:Deep down.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by utoddl (263055) <Todd_Lewis@unc.edu> on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @09:47PM (#45139137) Homepage

        The lower classes (the 98%) don't care about default because they see it as comeuppance for the robber barons who have all the money to lose anyway. It's only a catastrophe for those with something to lose. For the rest, it's an inconvenient equalizer. (Actually probably much more inconvenient than equalizing; hope we don't find out.)

    • Re:Deep down.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by samkass (174571) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:45PM (#45138597) Homepage Journal

      On this site a substantial number of readers use a phone whose OS is produced by a company that gets 95% of its revenue and profit from recording everything about you that it can, finding your weaknesses, and selling access to them to the highest bidder with zero oversight. Compared to that, what is the outrage over a Government agency sifting through metadata looking for people who want to hurt us and trying to stop them?

    • Jokes on them, I use a stamp moistener. All they'll sequence is the DNA of a bunch of bacteria stuck in the roller.

    • Since most people get their knowledge of the world from Hollywood movies which have portrayed pervasive government surveillance for many many years the reality is not much of a surprise for them. Most people are actually expecting it to be much more advanced. For reference see movies like Enemy of The State http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120660/
      I suspect people are more surprised by the fact that you cannot infinitely zoom-in digital photographs like in CSI or easily track people with satellite based cameras

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:01PM (#45138177) Homepage Journal

    ICANN and ARIN are kicking the US off. [slashdot.org]

    That's not fatigue.

    • That transition has been going on for a long time. The net effect, so to speak, will be close to zero.

  • cold caloob (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AlphaWoIf_HK (3042365) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:03PM (#45138195)

    There's the very real possibility that Americans, despite the assurances of government officials, are being monitored in a way that potentially violates their privacy.

    What? Possibility? Potentially? Without a single doubt, the mere collection of this information does that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:04PM (#45138197)

    People would care but... hey! Did you hear what Miley did?

    Seriously, it's too abstract and invisible. Being online and virtual, you don't SEE that your mail was steamed open and re-sealed. You don't SEE that someone watches where you go. You don't SEE that someone is standing there listening to your phone call to your wife.

    Out of sight, out of mind.

    • That is conventional wisdom, but I find a few things wrong with that.

      First, the news isn't covered thoroughly in the mainstream media. The 2 minute bit in the evening news doesn't really stand out because it's technical and abstract. There is not enough time to get into the details, to explain to people what all of this means.

      Second, most people are in favor of this. Good they think, they are doing what they can to stop stuff like that thing that happened in Kenya. It won't happen here because they are

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @09:17PM (#45138879)

      People hate being watched because they might accidentally do something embarrassing or harmful. And, people have good reason to fear potential abuses of all the monitoring...punishing them for doing perfectly legitimate things.

      Be that as it may.....the basic human reaction to being watched is to behave. There may also be reactions of rage against the watcher....but usually people just become more self-conscious and behave better.

      And....people know this intuitively.

      The argument about having nothing to hide is flawed in many ways. But it is also very intuitive and popular.

      So, I think the bottom line is....most Americans at their core don't mind being spied on. In return they get better behavior over everyone else, and know that their own behavior is good (and lost as a needle in a haystack anyway), so they just don't mind.

      And so.....the spying will continue.

      • by RobinH (124750)
        This might be OK if we all had equal access to equivalent amounts of data on what our government officials and employees were doing.
    • by Zancarius (414244)

      Seriously, it's too abstract and invisible.

      I agree. I think that's a tremendous part of it. I think your first statement hit the nail on the head though. Much of it is because people are too complacent or don't understand the implications of a massive surveillance state and the ills that such a monstrosity can bring upon our society. As long as they can eat and watch television, most people don't care what happens outside their own little bubble, and I think that's a damn shame.

      If nothing else, it certainly

    • by jc42 (318812) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @09:38PM (#45139069) Homepage Journal

      Seriously, it's too abstract and invisible. Being online and virtual, you don't SEE that your mail was steamed open and re-sealed. You don't SEE that someone watches where you go. You don't SEE that someone is standing there listening to your phone call to your wife.

      Oh, I dunno about that. I'm part of the generation who grew up watching Lily Tomlin's Ernestine, the telephone operator who has at her fingertips all of your most private information. We laughed at her. Similarly, we thought the movie The President's Analyst was funny.

      And the idea of an all-seeing, all-knowing behind-the-scenes data collector is hardly anything new to American culture. Most Americans claim to be Christians, which means that from the earliest age, they've been indoctrinated with the idea that there's an all-knowing, all-powerful being behind the entire universe that knows our every act and thought. The NSA is nowhere near this powerful (yet ;-). And, while they may be able to imprison or kill us, they can't condemn us to eternal life in a torture chamber, like the God that most of us believe in can (and does).

      The NSA are pikers in comparison with all that. They're pikers compared with Ernestine, and we thought she was funny.

    • by Tom (822)

      That doesn't mean it doesn't bother people.

      I live in (west) Germany. We had a surveilance state next door for decades, and many people I know used to live there. They all knew that phone and letters were being listened to. No one made much of a fuss, because - well, you could be locked up for it. But it did change the way society worked. And when things finally came to blows, the mass-surveilance was one of the reasons people actually took to the streets.

      I wouldn't be surprised if this alone is not enough t

  • by artor3 (1344997) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:05PM (#45138211)

    Slashdot is packed with mentally unstable conspiracy theorists who insist that the US is worse than Nazi Germany, Stalin's Russia, and North Korea all rolled into one. Compared to that level of white hot hatred, most Americans will seem pretty passive over the NSA thing.

    That doesn't mean they don't care though. Wait for the next campaign season, and I'll bet privacy will be a big issue. Not as big as the economy, but up there with abortion and gay marriage. A bill restraining the NSA failed by a pretty slim margin in the wake of the revelations this year. If just a dozen or so seats flip on the privacy issue, we can solve this problem.

    Or we can sit around screaming for bloody, nation-destroying revolution. I know that seems to be the popular choice on this site.

    • Yes, it's better to leave the nation-destroying to the neoliberals.
    • Compared to that level of white hot hatred, most Americans will seem pretty passive over the NSA thing.

      Because most Americans (and people) are imbeciles.

      Not as big as the economy, but up there with abortion and gay marriage.

      Now that's simply pathetic.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ah yes.... wait for the next election to have the same voting body that has voted in shithead after shithead to pick another bunch of shitheads and a shithead-in-cheif.

      What a great idea.... and people wonder why the serious problems We The People agree on just get kicked further down the road.... On to the next election, the next administration...

      Let's be honest, most Slashdotters put more time and thought into debating products that they claim they'll never buy (XBox, iPad and Windows 8 co

    • by s.petry (762400) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:58PM (#45138715)

      Slashdot is packed with mentally unstable conspiracy theorists who insist that the US is worse than Nazi Germany, Stalin's Russia, and North Korea all rolled into one. Compared to that level of white hot hatred, most Americans will seem pretty passive over the NSA thing.

      First, take the ad hominem and appeal to emotion and shove it right on up your a$@&*le. It works for the kids, but anyone with a basic education in rhetoric sees you for what you are.

      What you are, is a liar.

      Show me a single post where someone claims that the US is worse than any of those places mentioned, and I'll apologize. You won't find any, but hell why let facts get in the way of your delusional rant right?

      Now what you will find, is that many people warn that the acts of pre-Nazi Germany are very similar to what we are seeing in the USA.

      I am guessing that you will say "yeah, but it's all nonsense" to which I'll point out that the same people yelling about those similarities also warned you that you were going to be spied on, the courts and politicians were corrupt, and most of what you hear on "News" about the wars in the middle east was false. Since most of those warnings were correct, you are an imbecile if you somehow magically believe that US is immune to tyranny and authoritarian system. Go ahead and protest in a non-free speech zone if you think we are all "mentally unstable conspiracy theorists".

      I was going to quote and comment about the remainder of your statements, but I have a preconceived notion that it's a lost cause to comment more than I already have. Insightful my ass!

    • by NoKaOi (1415755) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @09:00PM (#45138721)

      Wait for the next campaign season, and I'll bet privacy will be a big issue.

      On the off chance that it is, the you'll just have one politician with a D next to their name saying they care about privacy and promising to fix it, and another politician with an R next to their name saying they care about privacy and promising to fix it, and whichever one gets elected will do absolutely nothing to actually fix it and everyone will forget about it. At least in that case though, it might get a few more people fired up about it for a couple of months.

      Except that's not gonna happen. The way the media has been spinning it, it's more likely that D's and R's will be promising to crack-down on potential leakers in order to overshadow what was actually being leaked. And don't pretend any 3rd party candidates will be heard by the media or have a chance of winning.

  • The US Government / NSA spies on its citizens. They collect a tremendous amount of data and use it in ways which could easily be described as "nefarious." The NSA also spies on foreign officials and citizens, too -- surprise! They collect this data and use it to...what...sell girl scout cookies?!??

    People who don't already this are in a serious state of denial or simply aren't paying attention.

    Perhaps, collectively, we may be in a state of burn-out on the issue though. With news aggregators posting NSA stori

    • The NSA also spies on foreign officials and citizens, too -- surprise!

      The only "surprise" in the above is the word "too". The NSA is SUPPOSED to spy on foreigners. That's what it was created for, and that's what its legal mandate both requires and allows...

      Alas, the "too" is a bit of a problem, since the NSA is (theoretically) forbidden to spy on US citizens on US soil....

  • by fhic (214533) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:07PM (#45138219)
    Not at all. I think we've just all come to the realization that there's not a damn thing we can do about it. The people who are supposed to be looking out for us are acting like petulant teenagers. The "hope and change" guy hasn't done anything but make the problem worse. The guys in charge of the whole thing just lie about it and nothing is done. What's the answer, other than ignore the new revelations?
    • I think it's more that we have an expectation that someone is "supposed to be looking out for us."

      When we have an expectation that the government should take the role of parent and have been conditioned that said government gives us our rights then we end up with a feeling that we have no control over what they do or want to do.

      The charges of what has happened are outrageous enough even absent an actual conspiracy.

      We are lost. We, collectively, believe we serve the government in exchange for some level of s

  • by KimiDalamori (579444) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:08PM (#45138231)
    Speaking as one person at a full time job that regularly requires in excess of 60 hours a week, and as a friend to others who work 2 crappy minimum wage jobs at similar hours, it seems like a lot of people these days work themselves to the point where they're just too tired to rabble-rouse politically.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:08PM (#45138237)

    I was wondering about the lack of concern and so I started asking friends and family about their views on the NSA scandal. None of my non-techie friends/family had heard of it. The local news doesn't carry it, many main stream outlets don't pay it more than a passing mention and they don't visit tech websites, so they were all in the dark about the issue. The fact of the matter is that unless you're a tech-minded person you probably either do not know about the NSA controversy or you don't understand the implications.

    • by RedBear (207369)

      I was wondering about the lack of concern and so I started asking friends and family about their views on the NSA scandal. None of my non-techie friends/family had heard of it. The local news doesn't carry it, many main stream outlets don't pay it more than a passing mention and they don't visit tech websites, so they were all in the dark about the issue. The fact of the matter is that unless you're a tech-minded person you probably either do not know about the NSA controversy or you don't understand the implications.

      This is really the heart of the matter. Social change requires that a certain percentage of a population directly feel the impact of something, along with a further percentage feeling indirect impact (such as personally knowing someone who is directly impacted). Once the percentage climbs past the tipping point, the entire herd suddenly begins to move. I believe the rule is 10% of a given population. Before this threshold is reached it seems as if nothing will ever happen and as if no force can make the her

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:10PM (#45138253) Homepage

    It is widely accepted that the people of the US are unable to consume more than two or three news stories at a time. At the moment, at least one or two of those slots are actively occupied by celebrity fluff crap. And what we have in attention limits is completely overshadowed by the lack of comprehension of what is going on in any of these issues and what they actually mean. Issues such as religious and racial tensions not only in the US, but around the world are tuned out while we keep chanting to ourselves "I'm not racist! I'm good! I have a black friend!! See?" And we're being swallowed up by our own debt -- debt largely caused by excessive defense spending... worse, untraceable defense spending as stories of missing millions, billiions and maybe even trillions have been told and few people acknowledge as relevant. And we're seriously nearing the end of the US's relevance in the world as China and other nations are very interested in forcing the US out of the center of the world's influence. We've burned every bridge possible with the NSA unbelievably huge global surveillance and the US government's even larger hubris.

    We're on the edge of something extremely bad.

    And did you catch the latest celebrity twerk video?! OMG!

  • by Hartree (191324) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:10PM (#45138255)

    With the internet to remind me of everything else I should be violently outraged about (global warming, abortion, Kony, Miley Cyrus twerking), it's hard to fit time in to be outraged about this.

    I think maybe I can pencil it in for Thursday at 3am. Does that work for you?

  • by MacTO (1161105) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:10PM (#45138259)

    I suspect that the real reason why people aren't outraged is because we've been groomed to accept a lack of privacy for years. We have companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter to thank for that.

  • by mellon (7048) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:11PM (#45138265) Homepage

    ...has got us a wee bit distracted? I mean, the good news is that after our currency tanks, the NSA won't be able to afford their spy center in Utah and their $60 billion budget, but the bad news is that we'll all be eating grass. So it's a bit hard to get exercised over something as trivial as whether somebody in Utah is reading our email.

  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:12PM (#45138271) Journal
    Seriously. Look at Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. People are freely sharing information about themselves than the NSA is collecting. People like you are running around getting upset over some phone numbers while most people are posting pictures of themselves stupid drunk, committing crimes, and telling offensive jokes in public forums, not to mention publicly demonstrating how stupid they actually are.

    Why aren't people upset? Because what the NSA is doing doesn't even begin to compare to what people are doing on their own.
  • I have TV and Video games that need watching/playing. Stop bumming me out.

  • by Kethinov (636034) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:14PM (#45138295) Homepage Journal

    People aren't outraged because all the rhetoric criticizing the surveillance programs was overblown. There are certainly plenty of things to be concerned about, sure. But just go read some news coverage from the time of the leaks and have a look at all the hyperbole and fear mongering. It was ridiculous.

    If we want people to have a serious discussion about surveillance, then we need less fear mongering and more actionable activism. We need to get more organized and make specific proposals detailing what laws we would change and why it's so important to do so.

    Instead of doing that, we just went on rants about how right we were the whole time and how evil it all is. We vomited vague, nonspecific emotion over the issue instead of proposing tangible solutions people could actually act on.

    So yeah, no wonder everyone's suffering from "surveillance fatigue." I am too. And I actually care about the issue.

  • The media is full of GOP shutdown coverage. How people break on GOP shutdown issue is almost completely different than how people break on NSA spying. The people mad about GOP shutdown don't seem to be talking about the NSA while expressing shutdown anger.

  • are asleep.
  • by nblender (741424) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:17PM (#45138333)

    My in-laws are in the camp that their lives aren't interesting so if some guy in the US wants to read my sis-in-law's text messages, who cares... Or find out what brand of tampons she buys... She figures it's better to be safe from "terrists" and lose a bit of insignificant privacy than the alternative... I'm a tinfoil hat wearing paranoid freak, to them, because I refuse to have a passport...

  • A new new deal would require massive demonstrations and/or riots at the local, state and federal levels. Writing to your congressman or voting is a farce. Has a rising tide lifted all boats? What about that peace dividend we were promised? Besides addressing income inequality, employment, education, social svs, taxes, prisons, electoral college, gerrymandering, lobbying, central banking and the military industrial complex we need a break on the two party system. A third party won't have success unless all
  • Apathy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:20PM (#45138365)

    Withdrawing in disgust is easily confused with apathy. It's been beaten into the American public's head that nothing they say or do will change anything - no amount of outrage changes anything. I don't know many people who thought bailing out the crooks that ruined the economy was a good idea, lots of people tried to stop it - yet it went through nonetheless. When we do speak up - such as Occupy - we get tazed, maced and worse... and still, nothing changes. Does anyone honestly think there is anything at all that will stop the NSA from doing what they're doing? Even if them doing so is akin to a big sick bird, they'll still do it - and just go back to lying to everyone who asks if they've stopped.

    It seems like it will take a total and complete collapse before we can rebuild on the ruins of this once great republic. Until that happens, I'm withdrawing in disgust and painting racing stripes on my hand-basket. Hopefully it will make the ride to hell go faster.

  • Is youse ignerent? (Score:2, Informative)

    by XB-70 (812342)
    They's a bunch of commies across the Pacific whore hackin our computers n such and youse is worried 'cause da Gov't is lookin at yer emails? Wese have gotta keep 'em commies in check. Da FBI 'n CIA 'n such r ther to protect r intrests an we gotta let 'em do ther job. Dats why we have 'em - 't pertect us, ya dummies!
  • by Pollux (102520) <speter AT tedata DOT net DOT eg> on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:24PM (#45138397) Journal

    Two words: Government shutdown.

    And while that -is- the answer, there's a deeper meaning here. NSA spying is yesterday's news. People only care about today's news, and they only care about it for as long as it remains news. As soon as the shutdown is yesterday's news, we'll get angry about something else. Our nation's vane hubris keeps our minds tied to the present, leading our general populace to share little concern for the past.

    What the NSA is doing is terrible, but the raping of our nation's economy by private financial interests is still far worse. Even more atrocious was starting a war with a foreign nation on false pretenses. But that's all behind us now. Let's get out there and raise our Don't Tread on Me flags against ObamaCare; we live in a democracy, and dammit, if we don't raise up our voice for what's wrong, we're not doing our patriotic duty.

    (And if you don't understand the irony of that last sentence, then please don't leave a comment.)

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      > Two words: Government shutdown.

      Well, we may get this. (What we have now is not a shutdown; it's a tantrum.)

  • by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:28PM (#45138447) Homepage Journal

    The TV still works, the computer still works, McDonald's still serves swill, and the boss is still harping for more work to be done.

    As long as day-to-day life isn't affected, the average consumer cares far more about Miley Cyrus twerking than they do about oppressive surveillance.

    Hell, how long has the TSA been invasively harassing people for the sake of security, and they put up with that, so why not put up with something that has no obvious impact on life?

  • ...we aren't surprised?

    It's like saying, "Insider at Phillip Morris reveals that cigarettes are really bad for you and the company knew it all along!"
    p.
    Had the headline been "Snowden reveals what button to push to make the NSA cease to exist" I would have gotten a lot more interested.

  • by retech (1228598) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:45PM (#45138593)
    Cattle will stand idly by queued up waiting to be slaughtered. Even after the cow in front is killed, they barely react.
  • by stevegee58 (1179505) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @08:53PM (#45138671) Journal
    As long as the government doesn't mess with Joe Sixpack's beer and NFL football he won't give a shit about rights.
  • by debrain (29228) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @09:07PM (#45138787) Journal

    As a teenager in the 1980's I would talk to my friends on the phone about the NSA, and we would say all the words we thought would trigger surveillance review of our call. "Bomb", "terrorism", "air plane", whatever we could think of. It was a bit of a joke at the time, but on reflection it reveals an interesting vein of thought at the time.

    A few things have occurred to me since then. First, I expected them to be listening. The recent "revelations" were hardly new - in the days before the Internet, in town of less than three thousand people in very rural Canada, I knew about and expected to be under surveillance under the right conditions. The NSA has since been regularly published about in popular film, at least as far back as Sneakers (1992) and Mercury Rising (1998) and other films. I think people who care have known about it for a long time.

    Second, I did not expect any serious negative ramifications from our phone calls. I suppose I presumed honourable and just people were on the other end of the line, whose interests likely aligned with my own or whose actions were limited by sensible restraints on civil liberties. I think in a sense the fact that people were listening comforted me, expecting that there were good people whose sense of duty would be upheld.

    All to say, it is not surprising to me that people are not up in arms. Perhaps it is apathy. Or perhaps along the lines of the reasoning I had as a teenager. Maybe something in between.

    In any case, as a matter of interest, the posting for the job of Civil Liberties & Privacy Officer [slashdot.org] at the NSA seems to have been taken down. I have not heard of anyone being posted to the position, or it being squelched because of e.g. a hiring freeze in the shutdown.

  • the origins of the 4th amendment are these:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writ_of_assistance [wikipedia.org]

    a writ of assistance is just as much of an abuse as what the NSA does

    disgust with the writs of assistance was a genuine grievance and a genuine motivating factor in the founding of this country

    so conceptually, the mandate of the NSA is a direct contradiction to a foundational concept of the usa

    the difference?

    a writ of assistance involves some rude assholes barging into your life and your business and messing up your stuff

    meanwhile, what the NSA does is secret, quiet, and unseen

    the difference between something invisible and in your face is all the difference in the world, even if it is the same abuse

    but eventually, the negative effects will accumulate

    extremely vile and unpleasant abuses will occur as the power of the NSA grows. selling information about a candidate or government official for blackmail purposes for example. that judge making that important decision on that coal power plant? blackmail him. that candidate that might spring the balance of power democratic or republican? blackmail him

    with 100% certainty this abuse will happen, if it is not happening already. power and corruption and secret dealings: can't be helped, it's inevitable. only transparency prevents corruption, and the NSA is opaque by design, so corruption is a certainty

    only then will the outcry reverse these growing NSA tentacles

    the problem is, at that point, since they will know everything, will any resistance be effective enough?

  • by evilviper (135110) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @09:33PM (#45139017) Journal

    The previous "firestorm of controversy and discussion" was the strange and unexplained phenomenon! The fact that US government has been violating the constitution and becoming more police-state like has been painfully obvious since 9/11/2001.

    The discussion and outrage was back when things like the Patriot Act were passed. Or congress voted to give telcos retroactive immunity for their violations of laws and constitutional protections. Or when the NYT reported on the wide-spread warrant-less wire-taping. Or when the EFF filed a lawsuit in federal court about the NSA's widespread tapping of all US internet traffic, and got stopped on grounds of state secrets.

    All those things, which happened several years ago, got fervent opposition by most intelligent folks here on /. and elsewhere. But the vast majority of the public and lawmakers went sheepishly along with those police-state programs, no questions asked. The fact that Snowden's leaks (that only served to provide further confirmation of what we all knew) had a big impact, is the one and only deviation from this pattern, and one that could never have been anticipated by anyone.

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4296175&cid=45028863 [slashdot.org]

  • Wrong question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @09:39PM (#45139079) Homepage Journal

    There's actually quite a bit of public outrage over the NSA revelations, but the people who benefit from this spying are spending a lot of money to suppress the story in the media and to astroturf social networks to make it seem like all the reasonable people are perfectly OK with their own government spying on them.

    If you think I'm wrong, start paying closer attention when the story about NSA spying comes up on websites and blogs. Read the comments about how you should "Stop being such a drama queen about it, because privacy is so 20th century" and notice the similarity in the form of these comments.

    I'm not saying they're made by the same people or even by an organized campaign (not necessarily anyway), but I'm saying that a lot of the "opinion makers" are worried, and that's the real story here. They're worried enough to either decide just to not talk about it too much or save their own bacon by coming out in favor of NSA overreach. It goes something like this: "Yes, mistakes were made, but the issues are being addressed" or, "There's overreach, but at least we're safe" or "The people who have exposed this overreach are a bunch of attention whores" or, "Get over it, princess. Privacy is a thing of the past because you use Google". Don't ask me to explain the rationale of that last one. I guess somehow, if you decide to have a private transaction with a private party and you give them your name and phone number, I guess it means that it's OK to do a pen register on your phone or put your contacts list into some database of some private contractor working for the government (and working for other private companies).

    People see what happens if you rock this boat too hard. People are tacitly aware of what can happen if a little birdy drops a word in someone's ear about you. There are names in the news of people that nobody really wants to mention too much, like Aaron Schwarz and that Rolling Stone journalist with the car accident or even just Glenn Greenwald's partner getting hassled in a UK airport. For 9 hours. Nobody needs that. Ain't nobody got time to fight a faceless contractor who works for a company without customers and without accountability who works for the Federal Government. Hell, I don't even have time to fight with my phone company, and I'm gonna take on who knows who?

    If your credit rating goes bad, you could lose your job. If the FBI start talking to your neighbors, you could lose your apartment. If you're so much as questioned, it could change the way people look at you. In an environment where jobs are scarce and things uncertain, it's not hard to put enough fear into people that they'll just decide to keep their heads down and pay attention to their fantasy football league instead of expressing their outrage that now our government treats us all like the enemy.

  • by thoth (7907) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @09:43PM (#45139107) Journal

    People don't care because the actual harm is too ill-defined and nebulous for people to relate to.

    A politician that campaigns on fixing this will put 80% of the voters to sleep. A politician that promises to force cable companies to offer ala carte programming will win unanimously.

    The bottom line is that the foaming at the mouth rage this induces in... some slashdot users... barely registers as a issue at all to the vast majority.

  • by Captain Hook (923766) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @04:30AM (#45140709)
    The one thing that really surprises me is you haven't heard more from NRA type organisations. The one thing they are always shouting about as a reason for the right to bear arms is to defend themselves against their own Government and yet here is what could easily be perceived as an attack by the government on the people and not a word is heard.

    Same goes for the Tea Party members who are supposedly against government interferrence and want smaller government yet I've not heard a word about something which could easily be used to influence policy and costs a fortune.

    Both groups seem to be treating this as a seperate issue from their own agendas but just a little logical thinking shows it makes great arguments for their own positions.

    Note: I'm in the UK, so maybe those groups are making those arguments and it's just not being reported over here.

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